The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Good the Bad and the Ugly

“Tuco: There are two kinds of people in the world, my friend: Those with a rope around the neck, and the people who have the job of doing the cutting.”[1] Tuco may have been a bit severe in his assessment of people, to his credit it was the old west. Now in the 21st century there are two kinds of historical websites: Those that are evolving with the times and those that are in desperate need of a serious upgrade.

The Good – Age of Revolutions

The site ageofrevolutions.com is simply stunning. Here is a page that is not only elegant in its presentation, but incredibly rich in its material. It is an incredible resource to which new studies are added every month. It is also very much connected to several facets of social media, making it grow both in popularity and content.

The Bad (although not too bad)- Manioc

“Tuco: When you have to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk”[2] Be straight direct and to the point, this is what I most enjoy about the research site Manioc.org. This site shows the better aspects of primary source and secondary source historical material easily accessible. From its initial presentation the site details wide variety of search topics. Although not the most elegant of designs, I find its functionality is adequate. While encompassing a rich archive of materials from different partners, this site offers a unique source of information of the Caribbean and the French Guiana.  This site becomes a compilation of great essential material that spans from maps, letters, journals and audio video presentations. All of which are easily accessible to: read, watch or download from their database. This site serves its principal mission statement of rendering accessible to the public this vast and growing heritage project.

The Ugly – ANOM 

“Tuco: If you work for a living, why do you kill yourself working?”[3] More wise words from Tuco, but once again I will add a twist. If you are a website that is supposed to work to ease our living, why do you make us want to kill somebody when using your platform? This is my case with the ANOM (Archives Nationales d’Outre-mer) the site of the national archives for most of the documents of the French colonial empire. Not to speak ill of the actual valuable information contained in this site. The great material in the site is only met with the clunky manner with which to navigate the site. When searching sources, it is necessary to search tediously subfile through subfile. Essentially it is the experience of being inside a rigid archive, but from the courtesy of your own home. To some extent it would be easier to buy a ticket to Aix-Province and visit the archives personally. The experience really comes full circle when adding the very dated way to print or download the material. You are only able to download or print one page at a time. This site clearly has not been updated in many years. A statement that becomes quite clear from the moment you click enter in the search option. If this does not tip you off the general bland and non-interactive opening page will. The saddest part of this spaghetti western is the crucial importance of this site for, not only my research, but Caribbean history in general.

[1] The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), accessed September 10, 2018, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060196/quotes.

[2] The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966).

[3] The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966).

8 Replies to “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”

  1. The Age of Revolutions website is truly beautiful. This was the first time I heard about the site and spent a bit of time clicking around (yay, rabbit holes). I love how the headlines are accompanied by tags, a vibrant photo, as well as the estimated reading time for each. The relative ease of the site also makes it accessible for the non-academic that wants to browse historical works online as well.
    I chuckled at your use of Tuco’s voice throughout. Especially at your comments directed towards the inaccessibility/clunkiness of the ANOM site. Yikes.

  2. Manioc.org looks like an Omeka site to me. I’m not sure if you’ve tried to use that platform, but it is not very intuitive. My site (http://memoriaelinguagrumentina.org/neatline/show/g) is seriously plain, and I think it’s going to take a long time to make it pretty. Manioc.org is also a content heavy site, there’s just a lot of information in there. All and all, I think the site is pretty well organized considering the amount of information. It could very well be a jungle of text and links.

  3. The Age of Revolutions website is very interesting. I like how they feature a lot of eye-catching art. I especially like the bibliography feature. Manioc.org has so many interesting documents but it is hard to navigate and the layout is not the best. The same can be said about ANOM but to an even greater extent. It is a shame when websites with interesting materials do not organize them in a way that is manageable or useful.

  4. I know Brie already mentioned it, but the first thing I noticed when I visited the Age of Revolutions was the estimated reading time. More and more online magazines are using this feature, and it always makes me feel like I’m a busy person whose every minute of attention is received with gratitude. Similarly, I loved that Manioc.org listed how many documents it provided on each subject. Like with Age of Revolutions, I just really appreciate transparency about what to expect from a link before you even click it. I visited ANOM before I finished reading your review, so at first I felt defensive on its behalf. “It’s trying its best on a limited design budget!” I thought. But once I read that it was one of those sites that requires you to download one page at a time, I changed my mind. Who would ever think that’s a good idea? The difficulty of using such sites for larger scale projects is only made more frustrating if the sources they hold are particularly rich.

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